27 June 2007: I knew about half the tunes at the sessions at Chippenham, and for most of them I could play at least the melody line at session speed. I got a bit stuck playing along with Bellowhead at the Royal Festival hall. I'm still working on The Lollipop Tree but am confident that during the next twelve months I will get it up to folk club standard.
11 November 2006: 10 November 2006: About time for an update. I've been practicing regularly. I have loads of books and tutor CDs and of course huge amounts of just music to play along to. I can, rather haltingly, sing along as I play "The Lollipop Tree". And last Monday I went to a real session, at the George Inn in Borough High Street (first Monday of the month, or 2nd Monday when the first is a Bank Holiday, from about 8:30). Some descriptions of this session say it's a bit French; it was described to me as 'not an Irish session'. On Monday the room was full; about 60% players, 40% drinkers. I knew very few of the tunes and could name even fewer; but thanks to David Oliver's folk equivalent of the Shield of Umor, I joined in with gusto and had a jolly good time. The George itself deserves a brief mention; the last remaining London galleried coaching inn, it's got an extraordinary interior that is not remotely well-suited to operating as a modern pub. I wonder if it ever was? The room that the session is in does not have a bar; it does have a hatch but they weren't serving from it on Monday. Unsurprisingly, the George is on the CAMRA register of pubs with historic interiors; unlike many, it's not at risk, as it's now owned by the National Trust.
And next week I take delivery of my Streb.
29 August 2006: I guess I was having fun with the melodeon before I started. I resolved the 'join in sessions' bit of this over the weekend at the Towersey Village Festival, largely thanks to the excellent session workshops run by David Oliver of Folkworks. He convinced me that the thing I needed to enjoy sessions was a change in attitude; that it was perfectly ok to join in with just a few notes, and that there was no such thing as a wrong note. He also taught us some popular tunes, which is great for building enthusiasm in the actual session.
So then I did about four different sessions, and had a great time. Now I need to pick up my playing enough that I can start a tune from time to time, and I need to learn about accompanying singing.